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The Bronze Age of Comic Books is identified as lasting from 1970 until 1985. At which point the Modern Age of Comics took over. Most of the Super Hero titles continued, but more contemporary subject matter started appearing in the plots. Real world issues of the day. The worry of drugs, alcoholism and the growing concerns of the pollution of the environment. There was a noticeable move to more mature comics during the early 1970's and into the 1980's.
Although no one happening can be credited as the start to this new age. It can be agreed that the change in creative teams working on the Green Lantern title was significant. Another defining moment was the end of Artist Jack Kirby's work at Marvel. There are stories of conflicting ideas between Jack Kirby and Marvel. I saw an interview with Stan Lee, in which he identified the issue in his estimation. Marvel wanted Kirby to sign an agreement not to re-publish his work for profit. Jack Kirby, found a new home at Marvels competition DC.
It can also be noted that many artists and writers of the previous generation retired from active work or in some cases were promoted to management positions of their various companies. The openings were taken by a young generation of fans who actually knew each other from attending comic book fan conventions. Companies also were fazing out titles that were not profitable any more. The new titles once more featured stories of horror and sword and sorcery.
The marketing of Comic Books also was changing. Cheaply produced comics that were sold only at news stands became printed on better quality paper and sold at specialty Comic Book Shops. This allowed for marketing to core fans. A side result, allowed smaller publishers an open market. Instead of just a few big fish in a small pond, there was an explosion of companies and a more diversified range of comics.
Many unique and interesting developments took place during the Bronze Age of Comic Books. I will list them here in a short order, then expand on them in more detail on a separate page. The 1970's saw a resurgence of socially relevance stories. One of the most notable was Stan Lee's Spider-Man story line warning of drug use. Iron Man confronted alcoholism and many others, the companies even promoted on the covers to prompt sales. Creators gained more recognition for their work and even some allowed to retain the copyright. Minority Super Heroes became more popular, Luke Cage was the first African American Super Hero to have his own title. Many artists strove for a more realistic art style.
The X-Men and the Teen Titans re-appeared after an extended break. Team-up books and anthologies, Marvel tried to bring double featured stories back to popularity. Some worked but others could not gain a following. Marvels quick reflexes to fluctuations and the trends, certainly helped them in their rise to sales dominance. Marvel also released vast re-prints of early titles, all working in their favor.
DC was working hard on creating new titles up until the mid part of the 1970's. Unfortunately DC overestimated the demand for the new titles and almost broke the company. Marvel eventually gained half of the sales of the market and Stan Lee handed over the comic division to Jim Shooter, while he focused on the growing animation spin-offs for Marvel.
The end of the Bronze Age of Comic Books is less well defined as the earlier ages. Not all titles left at the same time. The general agreement is the transition of 1985 to 1986. DC was able to revitalize the companies product line with Crisis on Infinite Earths once again growing to compete with Marvel. Marvels, transition out of the Bronze Age of Comics is tied in with the Secret Wars .
After the Bronze Age came the Modern Age of Comic Books. There are some sources that call this next age the Dark Age of Comics, more so referring to the darker direction of titles. Here at Online Comic Heroes, it is the Modern Age of Comic Books.
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